Black History Month: The vejigante masks and bomba music of Puerto Rico

Throughout the Caribbean, in Brazil and here on the U.S. mainland Carnival, Mardi Gras and other heavily African-influenced traditions are a testament to the survival and persistence of black cultures in the diaspora. Carnival season in Puerto Rico came and went this year, ending on Fat Tuesday as it does every year—with an explosion of music, dance and vejigante masks. Carnival In Ponce, Puerto Rico, known as “Carnaval Ponceño” has been celebrated for 160 years, and this year was dedicated to to the volunteers who worked tirelessly for hurricane relief.

No hurricane, no Donald Trump bullying and racist neglect of the island will ever be able to extinguish the deeply rooted traditions that provide both strength and joy to the island’s people.

Looking at the devastation wrought by Irma and Maria to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, and the ongoing crisis for people on the islands, fueled by the failure of the president and Republican-controlled Congress to shoulder its responsibility—one wonders how people can celebrate? 

The answer is simple—how can they not? A people without joy, without music, without song and dance are defeated. Puerto Ricans will not be defeated.

Puerto Rico se levanta!

Join the celebration and continue to contribute